Adam Eidinger, an advocate for legalizing marijuana, says he won’t commit civil disobedience outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue tonight, but he will sing karaoke to hits like “Last Dance With Mary Jane,” “White Rabbit,” and “400 Years.” And he’ll sing it badly.
“We will project karaoke onto the sidewalk with handheld projectors that are pretty powerful,” says Eidinger, who led the charge for decriminalization in the District. “We’re going to sing various cannabis-related songs very badly. It will be tone-deaf karaoke since this was a tone-deaf announcement.”
He’s referring to the U.S. Department of Drug Enforcement’s decision Thursday not to reclassify marijuana, which shares a schedule I status with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Advocates had hoped the DEA would at a minimum make cannabis a schedule II or schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act, citing its medicinal effects and the high rate of pot-related incarcerations. Some called for “descheduling” it altogether.
But in response to petitions in Rhode Island and Washington state, the department consulted with other federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, to preserve the status quo almost entirely. It did approve one change, though: allowing more research entities to register to grow and distribute marijuana for authorized purposes. Previously, only the University of Mississippi could.
“This change illustrates DEA’s commitment to working together with the FDA and [the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which collaborates with UM] to facilitate research concerning marijuana and its components,” the department said in a statement. “DEA currently has 350 individuals registered to conduct research on marijuana and its components.”
But Eidinger believes the change doesn’t accomplish enough, especially given decades of knowledge about the therapeutic value of cannabis. He and other members of his advocacy group DCMJ plan to stage an “emergency legalization demonstration” outside the White House starting at 8:20 p.m., which they’re promoting with the hashtag #ToneDeafKaraoke. A few dozen people are signed up for the event on Facebook, but Eidginer acknowledges the heat may keep many away.
“Summertime is the worst time to organize a protest,” he admits. (In other months, the demonstration might have been organized for 4:20 p.m.)
“We have to go on the offensive,” he says of efforts to achieve drug reforms leading up to the presidential election and after. “I’m really upset and disappointed. I feel loyal to Democrats, but at the same time we can’t be silent.” Eidinger adds that another action is being planned for Sept. 24.
Too bad President Barack Obama won’t be able to hear the bad singing from the West Wing today. The First Family is on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.